|"Mohan, could you answer the telephone please? I'm in the kitchen."
"Sure, Mom. Hello. Hi, papa!"
"Mohan! When did you return from school? And where's your brother?"
"Papa, school finished early today. Hari had extra classes. He will be late."
"Call your mom. Quick!"
"Sure. Mom, it's Papa."
"Hello. What is it dear?"
"Gita, did you watch TV?"
"No. Have been busy since morning. But what is it?"
"Islamic activists were protesting against the cartoons. They turned violent. And now riots have broken out in all the Muslim dominated areas. The worst hit has been Mirzapur."
"Oh my God! That's where Hari's school is!"
"I know. Angry Muslim mobs are on the rampage, hunting down Hindus and massacring them. Even children have not been spared."
"What shall we do now?"
"Don't know Gita. I tried calling the school. But the line doesn't go through."
"Oh, Shiva! If anything happens to our Hari."
"Call his friends. Check where they are. Meanwhile, I will try to go to his school."
"How will you go? It will be so risky."
"I have to at least try, Gita. Our son needs us."
"Papa, thank God you're home. Hari should have been here by now. Mom called his friends and they have all reached home. She is hysterical."
"Gita, you need to keep your cool. I have lodged a police complaint. I couldn't reach Mirzapur. They have imposed a curfew and wouldn't allow me through."
"Why do Muslims always create trouble? I hate them."
"See who is here."
"Hari! My son. Thank God you're safe."
"But how did you get here?"
"Uncle brought me. He took me to his house after school and we waited till the riots stopped."
"He is in the sitting room, papa."
"Come Gita. Let us thank our unknown benefactor."
"Thank you, Mr...."
"I am Ahmed."
"Yes Ma'am. Hari is my son Iqbal's best friend. They had extra classes today and as usual I went to the school to pick up my boy. Hari was planning to go home on his bicycle. I advised him against it and took him to our house which is near the school. When things subsided and the curfew was lifted I brought him. Sorry, I couldn't call. All land phones in our area are down. The rioters blew up the exchange. And to avoid the spreading of rumors the police jammed all mobile signals in my neighborhood."
"I don't know how to thank you, Mr. Ahmed."
"You don't have to Ma'am. It was my duty. Some misguided elements in our society have given our community a bad name. I know how you feel about us. But believe me; most of us are peace loving people like you."
"Thanks for opening my eyes, Mr. Ahmed."
"Now if you will excuse me I need to rush back home. Otherwise my family will get worried. Goodnight."
"Goodnight, Mr. Ahmed."
Word Count: 496
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